Reports have surfaced that the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) will push aside U.S. and Russian joint space programs and promote Elon Musk’s SpaceX venture as a competitor to win U.S. Military contracts. SpaceX will be in direct competition with the reliable joint venture known as the United Launch Alliance, which dominates existing military satellite launch missions. ULA is a proven launch joint venture between Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation. The U.S. military wants to increase GPS satellite launches as well as cyber defenses. On February 2, 2015, the President of the U.S will announce new programs to protect U.S. intelligence satellites from cyberattacks. The DoD is spending $7.1 billion on military space in the upcoming budget for 2016.
It is expected that Musk can bid on new military launches at lower prices and create competition in the market. In addition, the U.S. has an objective to replace Russian-made engines used on the Delta IV and V ULA missions. It is clearly a political strategy to continue to lower the defense budget and by using private industry for military space related missions. SpaceX, a Silicon Valley venture start-up of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, began its venture with heavy funding from the U.S. Government. Experts in the Defense sector have questioned the reliability of SpaceX launch systems.
The U.S. Air Force has planned to modernize its fleet of long-range bombers well into the 2040s. The contract was awarded to United Defense, General Electric, United Technologies, and Rockwell Collins. The deadline for completion of the contract is 2019. After that period, the USAF will begin to upgrade its fleets of B-1 and B-2 bombers.
The Afghanistan War began in October 2001. As the last contingent of Marines departed on October 26, 2014, International Security Assistance Force Commander U.S. Army General John F. Campbell commended the coalition troops on their work in what has been one of the most volatile and costly battlegrounds over the course of the war. The mission took 2,356 U.S. service personnel in 13 years of war. "Helmand, as you know, has been a very, very tough area," Campbell said in a U.S. Marine Corps news release. "We feel very confident with the Afghan security forces as they continue to grow in their capacity and they continue to work better between the police and the army."
Camp Leatherneck and Bastion Airfield will remain under the control of the Afghan National Army's 215th Corps. According to media reports, the U.S. military also leaves behind $230 million worth of buildings, equipment, and infrastructure for the Afghan troops as they continue to battle insurgents in the region. In 2008, 30,000 U.S. troops were deployed. In 2011, 140,000 troops from more than 50 countries were distributed in over 800 sites. As General John Campbell, commander of Resolute Support wrote on January 29, 2015, “As of January 1, 2015 we have about 15,000 coalition troops at 25 bases…as we prepare for the future, 2015 will undoubtedly be a decisive year. The ANSF must win the 2015-fighting season. Resolute Support will play a vital role.”
Lockheed F-35 fighter would be combat ready on schedule with the Marine Corps by June 2015, followed in 2016 by deployment with the U.S. Air Force. The lack of ability of the F-35’s software to allow the fighter to fire its armament is expected to be solved by the outlined schedule.
“The test flight of the 767-2C, a test version of the KC-46A Tanker, had originally been scheduled for June 2014, then for third quarter of 2014. Boeing has downplayed the delay, noting that the test flight is an internal deadline. The service has agreed, emphasizing that it is only concerned that Boeing meet its eventual requirement of delivering 18 aircraft by 2017. The test flight of the KC-46A was successful on December 28, 2014.
The program has hit other snags as well this year, leading to Lt. General Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy for acquisition, expressing concerns in November about Boeing meeting its "near-term" schedule.
The Boeing release notes that the company plans to have the remaining three test aircraft — another 767-2C and a pair of fully equipped KC-46A models — flying in 2015. A USAF source told the news media that the first KC-46A flight should occur in the spring.”
(originally reported by Aaron Mehta- on 12/28/14)
OneWeb Ltd will build, launch and operate the world’s largest ever satellite network. Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne program will help make it possible with frequent satellite launches at a much lower cost and with greater reliability. The Virgin Group and Qualcomm Incorporated are the principle investors in OneWeb Ltd and Richard Branson was looking forward to sitting alongside OneWeb Ltd Founder Greg Wyler and Qualcomm Chairman Dr Paul Jacobs on the company’s board.
The U.S. White House expected to request an increase in the 2016 U.S. Defense Department budget, which will be nearing over $534 billion. In 2011, the U.S. Congress agreed to limit both domestic and military spending and limit defense spending to $499 billion in 2016; however, that cap breached by $35 billion. This will include additional F-35C Joint Strike Fighters. The 2016 budget will also include a war-funding request of $50.9 billion; however, the specifics not given as to what war the White House target the funds for. The U.S. is still fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and with (ISIS) in Northern Syria and Iraq. Recently, the White House announced that it was providing $2 billion to Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko. So far, the death toll in the Ukraine war has reached over 5457.
In the 2014 fiscal year, the U.S. Defense Department’s budget was $496 billion. Pentagon officials said the higher spending level is necessary to maintain the current military strategy. The Pentagon is completing a report on its strategy in Asia. The Pentagon continues to seek military-to-military exchanges between the U.S. and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). In 2013, a PRC ship came within 100 feet of the USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser in the South China Sea.
Due to the sequester the Pentagon rapidly cut back on training of Army units and flight hours for Air Force pilots, which left fewer forces deployed overseas. In addition, U.S. Navy ship deployments canceled and the aircraft carrier bound for the Persian Gulf delayed by several months. Under budget sequester, the U.S. Army will reduce personnel to 420,000 soldiers from its current 506,000, and a class of air-refueling tankers scrapped.
Congressional Budget Office report forecasting that the annual deficit would shrink moderately into 2017 before climbing again as retirement and health-care costs rise. The Pentagon employs 3 million people. The Pentagon owns 70 percent of the value of the U.S. federal government’s $1.8 trillion in property, land, and equipment. The Department of Defense accounts for more than 95% of total national military spending.